“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.”
~ Max DePree
There is a coda for mastering fear and overcoming self-imposed limitations. The tools listed here will help you reach your objectives while gaining confidence, creativity, energy, personal power, and self-mastery. Let’s look at what holds people back. Typically, it’s fear. So the question becomes; what is fear?
Fear is defined as; an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger. The key word here is “emotion.”
Fear from the Greek: phobos, meaning “fear” or “morbid fear”, is a distressing negative sensation induced by a perceived threat.
How can an emotion be powerful enough to cause so much discomfort, dread, or anxiety? And if fear is really based upon some negative emotional response, can success also become a habit to replace that fear and create a positive emotional response within us? The obvious answer is, yes.
There are four primary areas that everyone strives to succeed in:
None of these will manifest until you change one POWERFUL thing first; your mindset.
High performing athletes, powerful CEOs, entrepreneurs, and top successful people all know that before you can have any lasting, life-transforming change, you first need to change your mindset.
Athletes practice for hours visualizing themselves succeeding and winning: The marathon, the three-point shot, the winning touch-down, the home-run, the eighteenth hole, the last lap at Nascar. Any of them will tell you that hours of training means nothing if you do not have the right MINDSET to succeed.
Heads of major corporations and companies cannot successfully run a business, leading thousands of employees and subcontractors who all depend upon them, without the right mindset.
Visionaries, actors, artists, designers, architects, programmers, entrepreneurs, and others cannot succeed without the right mindset. They may survive for a while, but ultimately, they can never thrive.
So where does fear come from and how can you overcome it?
According to Napoleon Hill, author of "Think and Grow Rich", there are six basic types of fear:
Loss or Lack of Love
These are the basic fears that surround everything we find a reason not to excel in life. You never really completely overcome fear. Even the most experienced and successful people can experience some form of fear at different times in their lives.
So how do you get past these fears and what’s your reward for accomplishing this?
To answer the last question first, your reward is that you realize you survived the “perceived” fear.
Fear is often self-imposed. It’s important to recognize that the anxiety and overwhelm you feel doesn’t rule your life. We gain confidence and self-esteem by working past our fears. And once you accomplish that, as a bonus, you gain greater creativity, more energy, self-confidence, and more enthusiasm.
Fear typically shuts your brain down so you cannot think beyond your current state of anxiety, but when you do learn how to work through it, you open up your mind to your truest potential and possibility.
The second answer to getting past your fears, is simply to know that you may never completely get past them, but they do not have to rule your life or keep you from moving forward. And the only way to master this and dramatically lessen any fear is to work through the fear over and over again, the moment it arises. Repetitive practice is key.
When a speaker wants to break through his anxiety and fear of public speaking, what does he do? He speaks in front of an audience. Not just once, but again and again, and though his fear may never entirely leave him, through this repetition, the anxiety is lessened. It can actually become enjoyable. Like anything we wish to excel in, the more times you repeat an action the more improved you’ll become. Think about a batter practicing for hours, honing his swing and batting technique, or the basketball player, working to perfect his shots, a musician whose fingers are beyond aching just so he can master one critical piece of a song. The signer who performs in front of hundreds.
No matter how seasoned a person might be, when he attempts something new for the first time, it can be intimidating; the professional going on a job interview, the account rep, giving his first presentation, the chef cooking her first meal. As with everything worthwhile to us, to become proficient, we must take the first step towards mastering it.
So, what are the best tools for breaking through the fears that hold you back?
Here are 10 Empowering Tools you can use to master your fears and get the results you want:
1: Take immediate action – Hesitation is the fuel that feeds fear feeds. Many people recognize this condition and there are several examples their words of wisdom and insights to help you push passed the roadblocks of fear.
Susan Jeffers says; “Feel the Fear and do it Anyway.”
Benjamin Mee says; “Sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”
Lao Tzu says; "There is no illusion greater than fear."
Marilyn Monroe says; "Fear is stupid, but so are regrets."
Craig Copeland says; “Fear is the seed of success.”
Close your eyes. Picture yourself standing on the edge of a mountain cliff with the beautiful, vast, blue ocean below. The water is cool and inviting, and the ocean is calming. Your toes are hanging slightly over the edge, and you want to jump down into the water but you hesitate, something is holding you back. You resist, start to doubt yourself, you begin to think this isn’t such a good idea after all, and you run every scenario through your head about why this is not going to happen.
Suddenly, one of your friends suddenly jumps off the cliffs edge and splashes into the wonderful inviting water below which engulfs him and he submerges into the clear, crisp ocean. When he surfaces, he shouts excitedly and has a big grin on his face.
Instantly you jump in too and are rewarded with the same pleasurable experience. So what has changed? Only the fact that someone took the risk before you. The results were the same; pure pleasure, thrill, and enjoyment. The conditions did not change, the water did not become softer, the drop didn’t get lower; you just realized that it could be done.
Taking immediate action allows us to quickly push passed all the doubts and fears before they have time to formulate within our minds. So what’s that tell us? Hesitation is the building block of fear. Immediate action is the cure.
2: Step out of your current isolating environment – Typically, anything new and worthwhile can be the place fear grows; applying for a new job, asking someone out, starting a new project, venturing away from the safety of a familiar routine.
When you remain within your current environment – Typically your home – You can find hundreds of ways to procrastinate and thousands of excuses why not to take chances. Creating a change of scenery or venue can have great impact on diminishing fear and anxiety. Taking a walk on a beautiful day, visiting a new art gallery, having lunch at a new restaurant, driving to a different part of the city, or anything that gets you even slightly out of your comfort zone can do wonders to overcome your isolating state.
Being in a rut means staying within the same conditions or routine because you are unwilling to change. Happiness comes from trying something new. We are happiest when we are evolving. And happiness is counter-productive to fear.
Make a practice of changing your environment as much and as often as possible. Don’t find excuses why you can’t leave your current environment; house is messy, too much work, bad hair day, no nice clothes, etc. Those are only limitations of fear.
3: Seek mentorship – Finding a mentor is one of the most rewarding things you can do for your progress towards confidence, self-improvement, and growing your personal power. A mentor is someone who has done something you are looking to succeed in that can offer counsel, advice, and insights into achieving your goals.
The trick is not to let your fear keep you from seeking out and asking someone for their advice or counsel. You may think; “Why would someone like that take the time for me?” You’d be surprised how many successful people I’ve spoken with tell me how very few people ask them for their advice and mentorship. The ones who do ask typically get their time and counsel simply because they asked.
It’s important that you do not seek out a friend, relative, or peer for mentorship. While these people may have the best of intentions for you, they may not have the proper experience to guide or counsel you, instead, they can only offer their opinion. Additionally, these people only want the best for you so they will most likely tell you only what they think you want to hear to make you feel good about yourself. This has temporary merit, like a band aide, but no lasting results or positive forward movement.
You wouldn’t eat just any food, buy any television, or car, or take just any medicine, so why would you seek out just anyone for mentorship? Finding someone who can be of great service to you may take some time and be a difficult task, but the value of finding such a mentor is priceless.
4: Elicit Help – Another form of fear is overwhelm. When we have too much on our plate, too many balls to juggle, we can tend to get overwhelmed, flustered, and become fearful that we will never move forward. Asking others to help you can give you the breathing room and perspective you need.
Here’s my definition of overwhelm, which is one of the causes of fear:
Overwhelm is like being at Mardi Gras in the middle of hundreds of people crowding around you. In this state you are unlikely to see very far in any direction, and you can become claustrophobic, lost, and confused.
Instead, when you are up on the balcony, looking down at the Mardi Gras, you can see far and wide in every direction, you become less overwhelmed, and you have a greater perspective of everything around you.
When you ask others for help, and allow them to truly help, you take the pressure off yourself and this allows more room for creativity, clarity, and forward movement.
It’s not a weakness to ask others for help; it’s a strength. Powerful, confident leaders do it all the time. People actually respect you and appreciate that you asked them to assist you.
5: Be of service to others in need – Take the focus off yourself by helping others is one of the most beneficial and empowering things you can do. I don’t know of anyone who volunteers or is of service to others who doesn’t feel that they got more out of the deal then the people they were being of service to. When you help someone in need, how can you be on the bottom rung of the ladder? The mere act of giving your time and energy to another person frees you, empowers you, and gives you a sense of pride and self-confidence, while providing the gift of valuable service to someone else.
When this is done on a regular basis, you gain confidence, energy, and a greater sense of community with the people around you.
6: Write down your objectives – When your goal is visible, it becomes more real, more obtainable. Keeping some “worthy goal” in your head is like adding a carrot to a vat soup with many ingredients… eventually the carrot gets lost in the mix. By writing your objective down on a piece of paper, you are more likely to focus on your goal more often and with greater clarity, thought, and determination.
If you keep that worthy goal inside your head along with everything else you have to do; picking up the dry cleaning, running errands, going grocery shopping, filling the car with gas, then that WORTHY GOAL loses its power and importance. You may find that it’s now seven years later and you are no closer to reaching your goal. Get it out of your head!
Interestingly, when you have your goal in a visible place where you can see it every day, the power of your subconscious works on ways to make that goal a reality.
By the way, choosing to write it on a Post-it not only shows that your goal is not that important to you, but that you don’t care enough to reach it. Big ideas require big spaces. Write it like you mean it, BIG, then look at it every day so your subconscious mind begins to work on create the best outcome for achieving your goal.
7: Find a creative outlet – Find something you can do that cultivates your personal abilities. If fear is the seed of success, creativity is the fertilizer. You need a creative outlet to:
Open up your thinking process
Change your current state of mind
When you are in a creative state it immediately offers you two important benefits. One, is that you are not stuck in overwhelm (since creativity cannot thrive in that kind of environment), and two, that you are empowered; your energy, confidence, and abilities are firing at peak performance. When you can purposefully put yourself in a creative state or environment as often as possible, you access your best abilities and qualities.
Creativity can be fun and pleasurable and is one of the cornerstones to creating a more confident, powerful belief system, and fear, like a flame that needs oxygen to survive, cannot exist in this state.
8: Chunk it down – One of the best phrases I’ve heard it “Eat that Elephant!” That means that if you can get passed the hardest task in front of you, everything else will be easy to handle. However, this works both ways, when you master the little things, and you can do one after another, you begin to build your mental “muscle memory” which tells your subconscious that you can handle whatever’s in front of you.
As you successfully accomplish more and more of these little tasks, you create a habit of discipline and your psyche is geared to take on bigger challenges. The tasks may still be daunting at first, but your fear and overwhelm will be greatly diminished. It becomes like a reward for your soul; you will actually look forward to taking on any new challenge.
9: Talk it out – Fear is built upon a cyclical conversation you have with yourself. Typically, you mull something over inside your head, creating bad scenarios and outcomes that end in thoughts of failure, embarrassment, or defeat. By talking it out with a peer who (this is key), you admire or has several accomplishments under their belt, you get two surprising results. One is that they might have insights or clues about the best methods for accomplishing your objective, or how to avoid the pitfalls.
The second reason is, just the mere action of talking out loud to someone else can often be the best medicine. The conversation inside your head almost always sounds different, when sharing it with someone, then it does when it’s kept in your head. You may actually find that by talking to someone, the solution has been right in front of you the entire time.
10: Take inventory of everything you do well – Fear happens when we get stuck, overwhelmed, or are confronted with a new, unfamiliar project or task. When this happens we can become limited in our belief in ourselves and this can create a closed, non-progressive loop of behavior. When you examine and write down your best qualities, skills or the abilities you possess and that you’re really good at, this simple exercise can open your mind up, build your creativity, and lessen your fears and doubts.
It’s great when someone praises us for something we are competent at, but when you take the time to recognize these attributes within yourself, you change your inner-dialogue. You start to notice the negative inner voice that puts limitations on you, keeping you stuck, and you begin to replace that negative voice with a more empowering, positive vision of yourself.
Once you take this positive inventory, post your attribute on index cards throughout your house with positive, powerful words or phrases (written in big bold letters), reinforcing who you really are and what you are capable of:
“I AM A CREATIVE PERSON”
“I AM A GREAT WRITER”
“I’M EXCELLENT AT MY JOB”
“I EXCEL AT DEVELOPING NEW INNOVATIONS”
Strength vs. Weakness
Another way to put this is Victor versus Victim. When you place yourself in a situation where you want to be rescued or comforted you give up your personal power.
Here’s the thing: You already possess the gift within yourself to know everything you need to know. You have always had this ability. The trick is to trust it in order to access it, and knowing when you’ve accessed it correctly.
Fear can rob you of this gift of self-knowledge and awareness and throw you off course. Like anything worthwhile this takes time to master. Here’s something important to remember, there is no quick fix, magic pill, or shortcut. When you see someone make it to the top or reap the rewards of success, you are only seeing a small fraction of their entire journey. You don’t know how many times they have personally failed or struggled, or have encountered defeat before they reached their dream.
You have the same opportunities anyone else has. It you doubt this then look at people like:
Nick Vujicic – http://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org/
Isaiah Bird – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PF-8YDM6xw8
Temple Grandin – http://www.templegrandin.com/
Wilma Rudolph – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilma_Rudolph
J.K. Rowling – http://www.biographyonline.net/writers/j_k_rowling.html
If fear is self-imposed then it can be self-corrected and overcome. Think of fear like fat, and the best way to overcome fat is to replace it with muscle. If you never work on building the muscle it remains fat and never becomes stronger, lean, and powerful.
By exercising (and challenging) your fear a little bit every day, using the ten tools above to turn that fear (fat) into lean, powerful muscle (confidence)